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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Delicious Greens

Leafy greens are delicious! Of course, I didn't always feel that way. There was a time when my knowledge of vegetables was extremely limited. How limited? My idea of a vegetable side dish was either an unevenly heated bag (yes - bag) of cauliflower, carrot, and broccoli medley fresh from the microwave, or even better, veggie flavored crackers topped with a processed uncheese. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

Allergies opened my culinary world up. You would think that I would be more restricted, but there were so many delicious foods I never touched. Pre-allergy Cami was all about convenience and chemically fueled flavor enhancers. Now I take the time to peel and slice butternut squash (and discovered that it makes delicious oven baked fries - even better than sweet potato fries, but that's another post).  I am glad that I was forced into learning how to live with a whole foods diet. My crash course was ugly at times.  Learning cardamom and turmeric are spices that should be used sparingly was a painful, disgusting lesson. Properly pairing spices, learning when to appreciate foods in their natural, unheated state, and how to properly prepare greens are all things I'm glad I took the time to do.

Kale and Beet Greens sauteed as outlined below

All greens do not score evenly in my book, and my husband is even more particular. I have never developed a taste for collard greens.  I've tried them raw as a wrap, boiled to death, and sauteed, and none of the preparations have warmed me to the vegetable. Any other green I've tried was an instant success. Kale is good raw, especially if it's baby kale or marinated in a dressing that has a healthy amount of acid (either citrus or vinegar based). Most other greens I prefer lightly cooked, whether it be steamed or sauteed.

Friends and family have expressed concerns around eating a lot of leafy greens because of oxalic acid.  Oxalic acid is suspected to have a correlation to the formation of kidney stones.  The problem would be when oxalic acid pairs with calcium in the body and forms crystals that build into stones. I try to pair leafy greens with a little bit of citrus to cut down on the risk, although I've honestly found very little articles of substance to validate the claim.  There are also some new articles online defending oxalic acid, arguing that high salt and animal protein intake are more likely to result in the production of kidney stones.  I would just like to say there is room for debate.

A few things I will say about leafy greens before I go on to some simple recipes:
  • Wash them! A lot! Aphids love kale and dirt clings to mustard greens. I use a big bowl of water with either produce wash or food grade hydrogen peroxide, following instructions. Swish the greens around in the water before rinsing with a strong spray.
  • Do not use oils to cook outside of known healthy oils like grapeseed and coconut oil. Especially do not use canola. I read this article and was horrified.
  • Get them fresh! If the leaves are firm and full, you have a good bunch.  If they are feeling slightly limp at the farmers market or store, put them back. Usually that means they will be wilted within a day.
  • Check the stems. If there are dark black spots, mold is setting in.
  • Don't chop them before you are ready to use them. It's tempting to buy pre-chopped greens, but I have noticed that the exposed stem/ribs mold faster.
  • Don't be afraid to try them raw. 
  • Pair them with citrus.
  • Read about all of the wonderful health benefits of these delicious, under utilized veggies.
It can be really difficult to get kids to try new things. I am not above hiding veggies in unexpected places.  Just tonight, my husband made a delicious meatloaf with sauteed kale, shallots, and celery blended and combined with some spices. We will be posting that recipe soon.

Simple Kale Preparation
1 bunch kale
1/2 lemon, juice
pinch of salt
1-2 tsp coconut oil

Wash, rinse, and roughly chop the kale. Heat a saute pan up to medium heat and add the coconut oil to the pan to coat. Add the kale and salt, stirring often. After a couple minutes, add the lemon juice, distributing it evenly over the kale. If you squeeze the lemon over one spot, the kale will soak it up and it will be surprising. Only cook the kale until it is tender and a rich, uniform green - which should only take around five to ten minutes.

Variations: Try adding a bunch of beet greens, some garlic, or an onion. Turnip greens or beet greens alone prepared this way are very good.  I like mustard greens substituted for kale, but my husband prefers them with some onion added to temper the bitterness.

Fresh Baby Kale Salad
baby kale
arame or hijiki seaweed, soaked and rehydrated
julienned carrots
finely sliced green onions
miso dressing

Wash the veggies and prepare as necessary. Toss with miso dressing and let sit anywhere from 0-90 minutes. I have the patience of a gnat, so I don't wait. Waiting at least 20 minutes would give the kale a chance to break down a bit and become more tender. 

Steamed Greens
Any Green
pinch of salt
spray of lemon juice


This is my favorite simple recipe.  Just wash and rinse the greens, put them in a steamer, and remove them from the steam when the greens get to a darker green and are tender when sampled (about 1-2 minutes after the water starts boiling).  Add a little salt and lemon juice after they are cooked. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Easy Single-Dish Dinners

The University District Farmers Market has been bustling with activity.  Each time I visit, I plan on getting to the market when it opens at 9. Ultimately, I fall a little short of my goal and arrive no earlier than 9:30. Parking can be interesting in Seattle at any time of day, so I inevitably park a few blocks away and carry enough produce to last me several days, but not enough to leave me overburdened and stumbling along the sidewalks. This week, I fell a little short of the latter and ended up looking like a pack mule.

This week's selections included beets, mustard greens, scallions, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, peaches, and yellow squash. There are always many organic farmers in attendance and most of them will accept credit cards now, which is great for those of us who don't like carrying much cash. There are also a number of farmers with organic, antibiotic free, grass fed meats.  It takes me a little longer to shop for those items because I'm not used to the pricing or cuts.

I love shopping at the farmers market because it lets me do a little meal planning in my mind as I wander through the stalls. There's nothing like the freshest produce; I never go to the market with a set list of items with the expectation that I will just select what looks to be at the peak of its season. We have had an unusually pleasant summer, and standing in front of a stove-top is something I have been avoiding, so I look for vegetables that are good fresh or roasted.

My husband and I both work full time, so I try to fix meals that take very little prep time. Lately, I've been feeling lazy, so I've been making as many one-dish meals as possible.  They are very simple and prep time only entails the amount of time it takes to peel and chop the vegetables.


The following are some vegetable combinations we have enjoyed.  All are cooked at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  We are both eating meat now, so I'll put pork, beef, or chicken over the top of the vegetables and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Some time may need to be added for the meat - go by whether the vegetables are fork tender and the meat is at temperature.

Roasted Veggies 1
4 beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2" to 1" cubes
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" segments
1/2 an onion, rough chopped
1 medium zucchini, halved and chopped
2 Tb parsley, minced
1-2 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 Tb olive oil - optional
salt and pepper to taste

Ideally, the vegetables (except onion and parsley) should be cut to about the same size for even cooking.  These vegetables are robust and handle red meats well. If the dish is combined with a meat that isn't lean, I don't find the olive oil to be necessary. Substituting apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar is especially tasty with pork.

Roasted Veggies 2
1/2 a medium head of cabbage, sliced
2 peeled zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2" lengths
 1 onion, sliced
3 Tb cilantro, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tb olive oil
salt to taste

This dish pairs well with lean proteins like chicken and fish. If I cook fish, it is baked in a separate dish to reduce the risk of bones getting lost in the vegetables.

Roasted Veggies 3
1/2 cauliflower head, 1" pieces
2 carrots, 1/2" lengths
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
1/2 onion, rough chopped
2 Tb cilantro
1 T cumin
1 t coriander
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t cayenne
1 T vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I personally don't eat potatoes or cayenne because they are not good for people with autoimmune/inflammatory issues.  Usually I cook this meal in a frying pan, but it works roasted - just be sure to toss all of the ingredients evenly.  This is a great vegetarian dish, especially if you want to add some chickpeas and cook some quinoa on the side.  It also combines well with lamb dusted with salt, pepper, cumin, and a little cinnamon.

Today's Farmers Market Inspired Meals
Breakfast
Sliced peach with hemp milk
Fruit smoothie with fresh berries

Lunch
Home-made guacamole
Peeled and sliced cucumbers, cauliflower, and jicama

Dinner

Roasted beets, carrots, onion, and yellow squash with a hint of vinegar, salt, and pepper
Mustard greens sauteed with onions, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt
Fresh green salad
Lamb shoulder chops with cumin, salt, and pepper

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Difficult Decision Has Been Made...

It seems fitting that this post comes nearly a year after my last. I've done a lot of reflecting and have made a difficult decision. This blog will no longer be vegan. I will be going through all historical posts and removing vegan tags, although the content will not change. This was not an easy decision, but I want this blog to be representative of the food choices I make, and lately this means including animal protein.

Why did I make this change? My health was not at an optimal level for the last year, with a marked decline since December in particular. I woke up one day and couldn't turn my head. After a lot of testing, it became apparent that my inflammation levels were quite high. I didn't understand it at first because my diet contained a lot of vegetable sources of omega fatty acids.  Unfortunately, further testing showed that my body is unable to process essential fatty acids properly and break them into the correct ratios. Most vegetarians have plenty of options and can balance this intake. My situation is abnormal.

After making a tough decision to include fish oil supplements, my health continued to deteriorate.  I discovered that I had anemia, hypothyroidism, and a few other issues. Although we found issues with my health that we continued to address, I still was not well. My doctor decided to do additional allergy testing and it was bad news.  I am allergic to all grains, anything in the grass family (including rice, cane sugar, etc.), quinoa, amaranth, spinach, all legumes, all tree nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, any form of yeast, and of course dairy and eggs. I believe that it is possible to have a healthy vegan diet with food allergies, but I have thrown in the towel. I refuse to compromise my health any more than it already is, and cutting out so many sources of protein and a lot of variety was devastating to my diet.

Previously, the majority of my diet was vegetables and fruit with nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains making up the remainder and my main sources of fat and protein. Without any of those items, I didn't feel it was safe to continue on the path I was on. I have to say that I feel much better and have improved to the point that I can work out daily again. A big improvement from not being able to support a full time work schedule and hospital visits! This was the right decision for me.

It it what it is. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to experience a vegan lifestyle and I met several wonderful people in that community. I will understand if people discontinue this blog. I will be posting recipes that contain animal proteins, although the majority of the recipes will focus on fruits and vegetables.  Fresh vegetables and fruit are essential for good health, and I believe people don't give those life giving foods the attention they should. The majority of my meals are meatless and I try to stick to leaner protein sources.

Now it is time for me to find joy in food again and focus on creating some tasty, health conscious recipes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cherry Crumble


I think most people would agree that Summer conjures up fond memories of vacations, camping, outdoor activities, and hours spent in the sunshine (well, after the month of June in Seattle).  When summer is upon me, I think of all of these things followed by, "When are peaches in season?"

Peaches are my favorite fruit and I have to wait until the end of summer to have them.  This would be a tragedy... if cherries and raspberries didn't exist.  

I am fortunate to live in the state of Washington.  We have a very temperate climate on the western side of the state, contrasted by starker extremes east of the Cascades.  Washington leads in sweet cherry production (1) and grows about 40% of the nation's crop (2) - the majority produced in the eastern side of the state.  Yakima Valley, Wenatchee, and Columbia Basin apparently have particularly ideal conditions, and after June you can see small, improvised canopies and card tables stacked with boxes full of bright red, dark purplish red, and yellow cherries dotting the roadsides boasting Bing, Rainier, and the generic "Sweet" cherries, even in Western Washington.  Quite simply: we're spoiled.

My in-laws were in town about a month ago and we had a surplus of cherries in the house.  Eight pounds is too much for even five people.  Even with my high fiber tolerance, there exists too much of a good thing and cooking seems (to me anyway) to lessen the effect that stone fruit can have on the stomach.  Drying the fruit, of course, amplifies it, so I decided to make a cooked dessert with the cherries and add in some apples so we didn't waste any of those beautiful cherries.  And because we were entertaining a household of people from out-of-town, it had to be something I could do quickly.  Well, fairly quickly.  Let's be honest, if you don't have a cherry pitter, you're in for some manual labor.  Fortunately, my mother-in-law is a doll and was quick to volunteer to prep fruit while I worked on dinner.

The sign of a successful dessert is that people enjoy it regardless of what "normal" ingredients are missing.  I tend not to tell people that something I cook is vegan, gluten-free, or "different" to see the reactions I get.  I'm not sadistic.  I'm just really looking for honest opinions.  I've seen people bite back comments because they thought it wasn't possible to have "normal" flavors when they knew something was gluten free.  We had about twelve "normal diet" people over for a feast, and this cobbler was the star of the show.  In fact, I wasn't allowed to the July 4th picnic without bringing a generous amount of crumble.

This dessert lives up to its name...it crumbles!

Cherry Apple Crumble
Serves 8 hungry people
2 pounds of Sweet Cherries, whole, or 4.5 cups loosely packed pitted Sweet Cherries
2 Apples, peeled and cut to 1/2" cubes
1 Vanilla bean, scraped
2 T Tapioca Flour 
1 c Turbinado Sugar, split evenly
1/4 c Water
3/4 c Millet Flour
3/4 c Teff Flour
1/3-1/2 c Palm Oil
1/2 t Cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put the cherries and apples in a large bowl and pour in 1/2 cup of sugar.  Stir until the sugar is distributed evenly.  Mix the vanilla bean and tapioca flour in a separate small bowl and then add 1/4 cup of water.  Stir until well combined.  Pour the tapioca mix over the top of the fruit and stir to coat the fruit evenly.  Pour the mixture into an 8X12 baking pan.

I reuse the fruit bowl and add the millet, teff, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir and then add the palm oil.  Start with 1/3 of a cup.  Use either a pastry cutter or fork to combine the palm oil.  It should start to stick together in small chunks, about the size of small gravel.  If you pinch the flour combination together and it isn't sticking together, there isn't enough oil, but it should be loose until you pinch it.  The dough shouldn't stick together like pie crust in large clumps - that means there's too much moisture.  The mixture should resemble a streusel.

Spread the flour mixture evenly over the top of the berries.  Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla coconut ice cream or plain.

You could substitute with other types of sugar, but I like the added crunch that turbinado gives.  I have also switched the millet or teff out for brown rice flour.  They both work equally well. I prefer the Rainier variety of cherries, but any sweet variety will do.

Resources:

1.   Boris, Hayley and Henrich Brunke and Marcia Kreith.  Cherry Profile. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.  March 2006. <http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/fruits/cherry_profile.cfm>

2.  Smith, Timothy and Dr. Eugene Kupferman.  Crop Profile for Cherries (Sweet) in Washington.  December 2002.  Web March 2003.  <http://www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/WAcherries-sweet.html>

Monday, March 5, 2012

Flax Crackers - Mmmmm Fiber


Fiber is a non-digestible part of the plant that passes through the GI tract, absorbing fluid. It helps bind stool together and keep things moving. Recommended fiber intake is about 20-35 grams, but the average American only eats about 12-18 grams. Why so little? A LOT of our food is highly processed and we are a convenience-minded society. Is it easier to dehydrate your own crackers for 3 days, or grab a box of tasty but nutritionally defunct crackers at the grocery store? Most bread and pasta has little to no fiber, and many Americans do not consume even the minimum suggested amount of fruits and vegetables. Americans and other Western societies tend to eat a high amount of meat (20% or higher of daily food volume), which has zero fiber. Higher fiber intake correlates to lower incidences of colorectal cancers and digestive issues, better heart health, and lower incidences of cancer. I do wonder whether it's strictly the fiber intake, or whether it is a combination of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber working together because over the counter fiber supplements do not provide as much benefit in colorectal studies as individuals who eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Flax is not the most absorb-able plant food. There are a lot of omega fatty acids in flax, but only a small fraction is absorbed. I generally turn to other oils and chia for fatty acid intake, and I take those with vitamin C to up absorption. Flax is a great fiber source, and I usually combine my crackers with a wide array of veggies to make the crackers more nutrient rich. The toughest part about making these crackers is waiting for them to dehydrate completely. I tend to pick at them, testing for how done they are of course, and I catch Lance doing the same. They are really tasty with Dr. Cow Cashew Cream Cheese or miso spread. I also enjoy breaking them up over salad as croutons. Lance is a conventional food kind of guy, but he really loves these cracker as well.

Flax Crackers

Makes 4 dehydrator trays

1 c flax, ground
1 c flax, whole
1 c almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
4 T chia, ground
2 t salt
1 T marjoram
1 T basil
1 t herbs de provence
1/2 t turmeric
3 T dulse, ground
2T parsley (dried - or 1/4 cup fresh)
1 onion, run through a mandolin slicer or food processor
1 3/4 c green juice
4 c juicer fiber
3 c water
1/2 c apple cider vinegar

Run the almonds and sunflower seeds through the food processor with an s-blade until you have an almond meal consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the flax, chia, salt, herbs, seaweed (dulse), and onions. I left the onions in long slices but you could easily put them through the s-blade or blender and combine them that way as well to get the flavor without the strings of onion. Combine the dry ingredients, juicer fiber, and onion thoroughly and then add the wet ingredients.

I made the green juice out of one bunch of kale, one heart of celery, 3 carrots, 2 stalks of broccoli (I had used the heads in a salad), and a head of romaine lettuce. There was quite a big of fiber left in my juicer container, and I just incorporated that into the crackers as well. The juice was pretty good on its own, but it lent well to the crackers.

I spread the ingredients on teflex sheets on the dehydrator trays and put them in at 150 for an hour. If you want uniform little crackers, use the non-business end of a spoon or fork and make square shapes in the batter before dehydrating. After an hour at 150 degrees, I turned down the temperature to 110. After 24 hours, I flipped the crackers onto a mesh sheet and let them dry the remainder of the time on the mesh. If you cut the batter into smaller crackers, it will probably be done a day earlier than leaving them in sheets and then breaking into uneven shapes after they are done dehydrating. You will know they are done when they are brittle and have a good crunch to them. It took about 3 days, but it's been very humid here and I don't think that helped with the time table.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Flying Apron - New Location In Redmond

I wanted to raise awareness that Flying Apron has opened a second location in Redmond. My mom, husband, and I all stopped in to check things out and pick up some treats for us and my nephew Owen. Owen has a long list of fairly severe allergies, and it's really nice to have a place we can go that we don't worry about him getting a hold of something he's allergic to or cross contamination. There is a really large selection. Owen prefers the cookies and the adults enjoy the cookies and cupcakes but prefer the garlic herb bread.


The staff are courteous and helpful. One is a former teacher of Owen's and has first hand knowledge of food allergies - I'm not sure about the others but they are all respectful and diligent. The location is clean and well lit, and conveniently located near Redmond Town Center. They also have a great policy - if you try something new and don't like it, they offer a refund.

I remember how difficult it was as a child to go to birthday parties and not be able to eat any of the food, and this seems like a great solution. The baking is done for you so you don't have to make an entire batch, and it's quick. I would recommend going early in the day. I think I overheard one of the staff say a lot of the baking was done off site, and they tend to run low on several items.

For more info and directions:
http://www.flyingapron.com

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eating for Stress

Zap! Stress be gone!

I'm not a doctor or a trained nutritionist. I've done a lot of research and found a diet that works for me. I don't suggest it works for everyone and I recommend folks do their own research to find a solution that works for them.

The last few months have been very stressful. VERY stressful. Stress is often unavoidable and it's toxic. Higher stress levels are tied to higher incidents of illness, inflammation, and is thought to be linked to cancer. That's all well and good but life happens! I have been trying a lot of different things to help me maintain productivity at work, avoid picking fights or responding inappropriately to confrontation, and avoid having a lupus flare up. A large portion of that effort goes into what I eat.

Even institutions like the American Cancer Society and MD Anderson recommend diet alterations to help reduce the risk of the return of cancer and to avoid feeding cancer cells. Many of the recommendations are practical for people with auto-immune issues and inflammation (this includes allergies....). I went to a cancer treatment center that also treated auto-immune conditions and received brief counseling on what to avoid. The list included white flour, processed sugar, milk, red meat, white rice, alcohol, and potatoes. These foods are often eaten in excess, don't have a lot of nutritional value, are tied to inflammation and weight gain, and are really starchy.

Additional foods that are good to avoid:
  • Meat - animal rights aside, red meats are high in iron, which feeds cancer cells. Animals are usually confined in unnatural conditions and spend their lives stressed out of their minds, and I have to imagine it's not a huge leap that all of those hormones and chemicals don't do a body good. Cured meats contain nitrates which have been correlated to stomach cancer. Burned meat contains mutagenic compounds. Then there's farmed fish.
  • Fried Foods - Mmmm...acrylamide. A by-product of frying that's also used as a neurotoxin and a known carcinogen.
  • Gluten - especially if there's a possibility you're intolerant, although doctors are starting to admit that intolerance is more common than previously though and only extreme intolerance is caught by current testing. A good way to find out if it's really what's causing you to be tired? Avoid it for 2 weeks and then eat it again.
  • Canned foods - Cans are usually lined with resin, which is high in BPA, which leeches into your food.
  • Sugary Drinks - I'm not buying the "Corn Sugar is like any other sugar" commercials
  • Sulfites - they are in a LOT of foods. Capers, many vinegars, kalamata olives, and many sandwich shops use it as a preservative.
How can you be stressed surrounded by puppies? (We still just
have the two....baby sitting)

Even though I am gluten free and vegan, I'm a sucker for baked goods and comfort foods, just like anyone else. If I bake, I eat, so my recipe development has suffered. However, I'm getting really good at making salads, smoothies, and cooked veggie dishes. I'm trying to exceed the recommended "balanced plate" recommendation of 2/3 of the plate filled with fresh fruits and veggies. A typical morning starts off with a smoothie, I have salad and miso soup for lunch, and usually cooked veggies and either brown rice or quinoa for dinner. There's more variety, but that is a typical day. I make all of my own food, and it's not nearly as daunting as people think, even with a chronic illness and a full time job. Salads have very low prep time (compared to cooking something, especially), and what's easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients in a blender? If I don't even have time for salad, I grab some dried wakame or kombu, a jar of miso, and dice some onion. Add hot water, and you have instant soup.

Curries are fantastic. Turmeric and curcumin are antioxidant power houses.

Smoothie Base:
  • 1 heaping TB Warrior Food (hemp & brown rice protein - Vanilla is my favorite)
  • 3 TB Tocos Plus (vitamin E supplement)
  • 1 tsp Premier Research Lab Max B-ND (vegan B complex supplement)
  • 1 tsp Maca
  • 2 TB ground flax or chia
  • 1 TB flax, chia, pumpkin, or hemp oil (I rotate through these)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 lemon juiced or buffered vitamin C (helps to absorb healthy properties of the oils)
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp chlorella or blue green algae
Optional Additions:
  • 1 cup of berries and 2 cups of greens
  • 1 cup of berries
  • 1 heaping TB cacao and 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice and a pinch vanilla bean

So many options! Mangoes, oranges, pineapple, oh my!

Easy Salad Dressings

Miso Dressing
1 heaping TB non-soy Miso
2 TB Olive Oil
1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar or 1/2 Lemon, juice
1 TB onion, minced
pinch of dried ginger

Nut based "Ranch"
1/3 c macadamia or cashew
1/2 c water
liberal amount of dill
1/2 lemon, juice
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
pinch salt

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For easier mixing, soak the nuts for 15-30 minutes beforehand.

Salad Blends

I'm not beneath saying that I eat a ton of greens in one sitting. As in a full head of romaine. Plus sprouts and other toppings. The saying that lettuce has low nutritional value is a farce. Leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, are nutritional power houses that have compounds that fight stress, are high in essential vitamins, and contain amino acids that are the building blocks that we refer to as protein. Costco now carries large bags of baby kale and arugula. Arugula has to be my favorite because of that peppery kick it gives. It goes really well with my vegan "Ranch" dressing. Kale pairs really well with the miso dressing. I like to use multiple greens in one salad. Arugula, spinach, and romaine are my favorite. Kale is great with romaine for the more robust dressings.

Kale, lettuce, and spinach are all part of the "dirty dozen" or the fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide ratings when grown conventionally. It's best to buy organic and soak them in a large bowl of water with apple cider vinegar or food grade hydrogen peroxide (it only takes a few teaspoons) to help clean off bacteria and parasites. I choose to eat sprouts, but douse them with liberal amounts of food grade hydrogen peroxide and rinse thoroughly to help prevent getting ill from food borne bacteria.
Sprouts, a couple tablespoons of almonds, and a mixture of kale and romaine make a tasty salad

Parting Thoughts

Food is a large aspect of what has been keeping me energized and sane during this time period, but supplements and exercise have played an equally important role. I had a period of extreme nausea and dizziness and started supplementing with even more vitamin B12, and within a week, I felt my energy and balance come back. I have always struggled with maintaining balance in my GI tract, and was dealing with B12 shots and supplements well before I became vegan. B complex, buffered vitamin C, MSM, and several of the supplements listed in my smoothie base are tools I use to help ensure I'm lowering inflammation levels in my body. I'm going to add curcumin and turmeric, and am hopeful that these will help as well.

I try to make it to the gym every work day and garden, walk the dogs, and Zumba on the weekends. On days I feel lazy and have to drag myself down to the gym, I'll be content with 45 minutes on the recumbent bike or elliptical, but usually I'm mixing cardio with balanced weight training. There are mornings when I want to go running out of my office building and not come back - I go to the gym for an hour and all the sudden things are in a new perspective and more manageable. My boss encourages me to take time to work out because he has seen a dramatic increase in productivity and focus, especially in the afternoons, and he has been not-so-blunt about the fact that I'm just more amiable. I was reading Oxygen while on the bike yesterday, and I can't say I was too surprised that exercising just one hour can elevate your mood for 12 hours!


Is there anything better than finding something beautiful in nature to study for a few moments? I'm making a new resolution to try to get outdoors and enjoy my surroundings more. I'm lucky to live in Seattle, within short driving distance of 2 mountain ranges and scores of hiking trails.

I hope everyone finds a Zen moment and finds a working balance that works for them.

Some Resources:
Livestrong - Top 5 Cancer Causing Foods (Livestrong was a great resource when my family was helping my brother deal with cancer):
http://www.livestrong.com/article/81614-top-cancer-causing-foods/

Raw Vegan Source - Supplements and Reading Materials:
http://www.rawvegansource.com

Gone Raw - Raw vegan community forums and recipes:
http://www.goneraw.com